“'Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.' Then they left their nets and followed him." Mk 1:17
Reading about the call of the disciples, it is natural to wonder if Jesus knew any of the men before inviting them to follow him. Did he notice something in them that would help announce the great salvific message of his Father? Did he know their families? Did he call them because he noticed them listening intently to him when he preached.
We know none of the answers to these questions, but we do know that the apostles followed him immediately, and this knowledge is startling. What made Jesus' fist disciples leave everything so readily and quickly? They had families and reasonably good jobs, but something in Jesus made them look past what they had to the one calling them, and they could not resist. The readiness of the apostles to follow Jesus without questions is major focus of the story for us.
We have any number of reasons to hesitate when hearing the call of the Gospel. Discipleship, especially in the so called developed world, does not pay very well, nor does it promise fame or power, but resisting it can be difficult if not impossible for those who are honestly looking for a way of life that respects, even honors, all people.
When Jesus called his first apostles, they followed someone whose power fascinated them. Though they may have expected a Messiah who would set his people free from oppression, they soon learned that he was not interested in political or economic power. Rather, he wanted to assure anyone and everyone that God loved them not because they were Jews or prominent citizens, or insightful readers of the Torah, but because God thought of them as his children, and if they could hear this message their lives would change forever.
The simplicity of the Gospel has not changed. Neither has its difficulty. Our task is to live its message of hope, transformation and submission to God with integrity and honesty. Admitting our dependence on God and being willing to serve others in his name remains a powerful invitation to anyone looking for a God who will never stop loving and challenging them.
Today, listen for the voice of the Lord in your life and follow it unreservedly.
Have you ever followed someone immediately without really knowing much about them?